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Painful details heard of Descoteau murder in Colin John hearing

Testimony determining if accused is not criminally responsible by mental disorder
Family and friends of Derek Descoteau are standing strong. From left: Megan Smith, Leah Guyatt, Janelle Guyatt, Taygen Butler, Allie Quaife, Kristina Tkachuk, Brenda Smith and Irene Ellison. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Colin John has been on the stand all week giving testimony that will determine whether or not he was criminally responsible in the stabbing death of Derek Descoteau in Chemainus in May of 2016.

The hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Duncan adjourned early Thursday and will resume Friday. It’s expected to continue all next week.

Related story: Prosecution in Colin John murder trial wrapping up in Duncan

Related story: John found fit to resume murder trial in November

In November of last year, John pleaded guilty at the Victoria courthouse to the second-degree murder of Descoteau and the aggravated assault of Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt, downgraded from the original charge of attempted murder.

Related story: Accused pleads guilty to murder of Chemainus man Derek Descoteau

Descoteau’s family awaited sentencing dates and thought their ordeal would be over in January before the case took another turn. A psychiatric assessment of John was to be completed and included in a pre-sentencing report.

The judge eventually ordered a ‘not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder’ assessment in March. The psychiatrist preparing the report eventually asked for a 30-day extension which was granted.

Once the report was received, John had to decide whether he would apply to be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. He eventually did. That led to the hearing currently taking place before Justice Lisa Warren.

The hearing began with John giving testimony and has moved to the stage of expert evidence for the duration.

“It’s a major ordeal,” said Descoteau’s mom Brenda Smith of the long process.

The testimony provided so far has been difficult for Smith to hear.

“This has been probably the most major hit,” she said. “We’re hearing all the gory details out of his mouth.”

Kristina Tkachuk, Descoteau’s aunt, has followed the John case from the beginning and kept extensive notes on all the proceedings.

“We’re just hoping that he’s found fit and sentenced to the maximum he can be sentenced for,” she said. “It’s the only outcome that’s going to provide the family and friends a peace about this.”

It’s already been nearly 6 1/2 years since Descoteau’s murder.

“It’s taking a toll on the family,” conceded Tkachuk. “Derek would be 27 today and you wonder whether he’d be married or not. In that time of thinking of that, it’s all so depressing with what he’d be doing today.”

Many family members and friends have been attending the majority of the court sessions over the years, never giving up in the hope of seeing justice.

“He affected so many people in such a positive way,” said Tkachuk. “His memorial Facebook page is active and continually going even after 6 1/2 years. You don’t see that all the time.”

Guyatt, now 22, has been through a long ordeal and endured many surgeries after the attack but always kept a brave face under difficult circumstances.

“I’ve had four in total,” she said.

Descoteau and Guyatt were at his father’s house in Chemainus when John burst in and started stabbing them. Descoteau died on the way to hospital and Guyatt suffered serious injuries from stab wounds.

John was arrested at the scene of the attack.


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The Colin John hearing continues all next week at the Duncan courthouse. (Photo by Don Bodger)
The memorial bench for Derek Descoteau on the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Don Bodger)